Sommaire: 14 December 2010, Brussels - Rear Admiral Juan Rodriguez Garat, from Spain, took office today as the new EU Force Commander EUNAVFOR Somalia - Operation Atalanta. He succeeds Rear Admiral Philippe Coindreau from France.
On this occasion, Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, made the following comments:
"I would like to congratulate Rear Admiral Juan Rodriguez Garat on taking office as the new EU Force Commander of EUNAVFOR Somalia - Operation Atalanta.
The EU is leading international efforts against piracy off the coast of Somalia with EUNAVFOR - Atalanta operation. I commend the EU Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) for its successes in deterring, preventing and disrupting pirates' activities, especially in protecting World Food Programme and AMISOM shipments.
The EU is concerned with the continuing impact of piracy off the coast of Somalia on international maritime security and on the economic activities and security of countries in the region. We reiterate our determination to strengthen the EU's overall engagement notably to enhance regional capacity to fight piracy.
I would also like to warmly thank Rear Admiral Philippe Coindreau for his dedication and excellent work he has performed during his term as the EU Force Commander of EUNAVFOR Somalia."
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BACKGROUND: EUNAVFOR - Atalanta
EUNAVFOR - Atalanta was launched in December 2008 to contribute to the protection of World Food Programme vessels delivering food aid to displaced persons in Somalia, to the protection of vulnerable vessels sailing in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia and to the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery.
Over the past two years, the EUNAVFOR's primary mission has been to protect UN World Food Programme (WFP) against pirate attack by providing close escort to the ships carrying much needed humanitarian aid to Somalia. Since the start of the operation, 93 WFP vessels have been escorted by EUNAVFOR. The African Union Mission in Somalia's (AMISOM) logistic vessels also come under the protective arm of the EUNAVFOR with 75 successful escorts being achieved to date. EUNAVFOR is also tasked to protect other vulnerable shipping and to help deter, prevent and repress pirate attacks.
The EU is committed to a regional approach to piracy off the coast of Somalia, based on ownership of the countries concerned and EU support for their efforts to ensure the prosecution and detention of suspected pirates. The EU has concluded transfer agreements with Kenya and the Seychelles. Agreements with other countries in the region are under discussion. As a result of its close cooperation with regional governments such as Kenya and The Republic of the Seychelles, 92 suspected pirates captured by the EUNAVFOR have entered a legal system, with 43 being convicted to date.
As part of its efforts to support stability and security in Somalia, the EU launched in April 2010 a training mission (EUTM) in Uganda to train Somali troops (www.consilium.europa.eu/eutm-somalia). In addition to the deployment of EUNAVFOR-Atalanta, the EU's comprehensive engagement for Somalia includes humanitarian assistance, development, support to vital and priority areas such as the security sector, assistance to the population and capacity-building support.
The Council of the EU has decided to extend EUNAVFOR-Atalanta's mandate for 2 more years (until 12 December 2012)
REAR ADMIRAL JUAN RODRÍGUEZ, ESPN
Rear Admiral Rodríguez was born in Ferrol, on May 21st, 1956. He joined the Naval Academy on August 16th, 1974, and graduated as Lieutenant Junior Grade in 1979.
As Lieutenant Junior Grade and Lieutenant, he served for eight years on board several surface combatants: corvettes ESPS Infanta Elena and ESPS Diana, and frigates ESPS Cataluña and ESPS Andalucía. He commanded the fast patrol boat ESPS Alsedo from April 1990 to November 1991.
Promoted to Lieutenant Commander in 1990, Rear Admiral Juan Rodríguez commanded the corvette ESPS Diana from September 1995 to March 1997. Later, he served for one year in the staff of the NATO Standing Naval Force Mediterranean (STANAVFORMED).
In 1998, he was promoted to Commander. In October 2001 he assumed command of the commissioning crew of the frigate ESPS Álvaro de Bazán, being built at Ferrol. The ship was commissioned in September 2002, and Rear Admiral Rodríguez became her first Commanding Officer.
Promoted to Captain in 2004, he assumed command of the 31st Escort Squadron, based at Ferrol, in July 2005. He served for two years in this position.
Rear Admiral Rodríguez assumed command of the Standing NATO Maritime Group ONE in January 2008, and was promoted to Rear Admiral in September 2008. In January 2009 he took office as ACOS OPS in the Spanish Navy HQ.
In August, 2009, he assumed command of the Spanish Strike Group.
Ashore, Rear Admiral Rodríguez worked in several positions at the Fleet Headquarters and the Navy Headquarters. He also served at the Office of the Chief of the Spanish Naval Staff from 1999 to 2002. As a Captain, he worked in the Navy Headquarters, as Chief of the Naval Policy Branch, in the Plans and Policy Division of the Naval Staff.
Rodríguez, a specialist in Naval Communications, graduated from the Naval War College in 1994. He attended the Royal Naval Staff College at Greenwich (UK), and was granted a Master in Defence Studies by the London University in 1993.
Rear Admiral Rodríguez is married to Teresa Martínez, and they have five children.